Experts are sounding the alarm that beyond the physical and mortal toll the coronavirus has taken on Americans, its impact on mental health can be severe as well, especially for Latinxs as that population remains disproportionately affected by the virus.
A survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week revealed that 41% of respondents reported symptoms of some mental disorder, including trauma-related symptoms, depression and anxiety.
According to the study, higher prevalence of symptoms of depressive disorder, suicidal thoughts and anxiety were found among Hispanic respondents. In the case of suicidal thoughts, some 18.6% of Hispanic respondents said they had “seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days.” Black respondents also reported a relatively high instance of suicidal thoughts at 15.1%, as did 7.9% of white respondents, 6% of Asian respondents and 9.8% of other races or multiple races.
The study was based on surveys conducted during the final week of June and included more than 5,000 respondents — 3,453 white, 885 Hispanic, 663 Black, 256 Asian and over 200 respondents of other races or whose race was unknown. The CDC survey noted that symptoms of mental health conditions are more prevalent among essential workers, unpaid caregivers for adults and those receiving treatment for preexisting mental health conditions.
Frederick Sandoval, Executive Director of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association, said two of those groups, essential workers and unpaid caregivers, have large Latino populations.
“What COVID has already taught us in a very quick order is why it is affecting the Latinx community so much,” said Sandoval. “They’re not going to be getting the services to the extent that they could or should because of social determinants that create challenges in terms of limited access to resources, access to transportation, limited income.”
“Because of what’s happened, what we’ve seen from the pandemic, it has very easily increased the level of stress trauma, anxiety,” added Sandoval. “It’s put such emotional pressure on Latinx communities across the country.”
Sandoval told ABC News that parents in communities of color who now have to balance essential worker duties and full time schooling, are likely to experience more psychological distress. For Sandoval, the CDC study is a wake up call for policy makers to prioritize mental health.
“We’re just having a tsunami effect of policies ineffective programs and lack of resources to help people who don’t ask to be fraught with illness.” said Sandoval. “Latinx communities are being devastated by the pandemic and it’s heartbreaking to see. Something needs to change.”
Read more on ABCNews.com.